Recharge your skin routine with super anti-ageing antioxidants
If there was ever an elixir of youth to be found in skincare worth all the hype, then its feeding your skin with potent and viable antioxidants. Recent studies and reviews in medical journals confirm the ability of antioxidants to be absorbed into skin cells of the stratum corneum [the topmost layer of skin] where they neutralise free radicals and work as a wonderful preventative against skin ageing. Adding antioxidants to your skincare regime can help your skin fight free radical damage and recover from oxidative stress.
FREE RADICALS AND SKINCARE DAMAGE
One of the primary contributors to skin ageing is via free radical damage, also known as oxidative stress. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules because they have an unpaired electron. For them to acquire stability, they need to take another electron from another molecule creating an ongoing chain (stress) reaction. When this transfer occurs and chemical bonds are continuously broken and reformed causing irreversible and permanent damage in the molecular structure and function. The results – an increase in the visible signs of skin ageing – fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, sun-damage and breakdown of collagen.
WHAT CAUSES FREE RADICALS?
Free radicals are formed by biological processes like breathing and exercising as well as from external factors like pollution, UV exposure and toxicants. With exposure from the sun being one of the major contributors to skin damage due to an increased production of free radicals.
ANTIOXIDANTS PREVENT FREE RADICAL DAMAGE
An antioxidant is the Luke Skywalker of skin care. Just like a lightsaber, an antioxidant is a molecule that can neutralise free radicals. They’re reasonably stable with an unpaired electron, so once the free radical takes their electron, the chain reaction effect stops. They’re like your insurance policy against premature ageing.
Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants and enzymes like vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) and glutathione that can counteract free radical damage but if we’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of free radicals and our stores become depleted, increasing antioxidants in our skin care regimes can be a great preventative against skin ageing.
BENEFITS OF ANTIOXIDANTS
The benefits of incorporating antioxidants into your daily skin care routine are numerous including:
- Combating and correct the visible signs of ageing – Oxidative stress breaks down collagen, hinders skin’s natural repair process and triggers inflammation resulting in fine lines, wrinkles, loose skin, acne breakouts and a blotchy skin tone. By scavenging free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent and correct these visible signs and give skin a more youthful glow whilst providing increased hydration and moisture retention.
- Prevention of sun damage – By definition, all antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties. They blunt your skin’s inflammatory response to the sun’s harmful rays, preventing sunburn and providing enhanced protection against sun damage and photoageing.
- Repair and calm inflammation – Inflamed skin impedes the skin’s rejuvenation process. By reducing inflammation, antioxidants allow skin to repair itself and correct visible damage. Some antioxidants, like vitamin C, can also stimulate collagen production, which is vital for youthful skin.
- Brighten skin tone and reduce lentigines (sun spots) – Free radicals and frequent sun exposure can trigger changes in the skin’s melanin production, causing dark spots and uneven skin tone. By reducing photodamage, antioxidants can help prevent abnormal skin pigmentations. Some also work as a tyrosinase (an enzyme that stimulates melanin production) inhibitor.
WHICH ANTIOXIDANTS WORK IN SKINCARE?
Applying more of the antioxidants naturally present in your skin can boost your skin’s ability to neutralise free radicals. The ones you’ll find in skincare products, that have clinical studies to show that they work when applied to skin, include:
- Vitamin C (Kakadu Plum) – A water soluble vitamin naturally found in skin that protects the inside of the cell. It’s also essential in collagen synthesis and reduces pigmentation.
- Vitamin E – A fat soluble vitamin that protects cell membranes and is regenerated by vitamin C. It is recognised for its ability to accelerate the skin’s healing process and works well as an emollient moisturiser and is incorporated in formulas to help treat dry skin and reduce stretch marks.
- Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone) – An antioxidant that’s also important in energy production. As it declines with age, increased topical application helps fight off free radical damage and keep your skin cells healthy. This nutrient is easily absorbed by the skin and helps stimulate collagen production, which helps improve elasticity and texture.
Other antioxidants that come from plants are referred to by their chemical constituents – polyphenols, flavonoids, isoflavones and anthocyanins. Plants have evolved to deal with high UV exposure and create antioxidants as part of their protective mechanism.
The names “omega 3” or “omega 6” or “omega 9” essential fatty acids refer to where a double bond occurs in the fatty acid molecule. Omega fatty acids serve as essential building blocks in the skin’s surface layers and work to reinforce the epidermis and strengthen the skin against signs of environmental damage, increasing hydration, calming external stressors such as sensitivity and redness, eliminating dry and flaky skin whilst delivering a healthy dose of antioxidants.
- Green tea polyphenols – most notably epigallocatechin-3-gallate, are estimated to have 25-100 times as much antioxidant ability as vitamins C and E. Other polyphenols in tea (epicatechin, epicathechin-3-gallate, epigallocatechin) are active antioxidants as well.
- Resveratrol – found in grape skins and red wine.
- Genistein – an isoflavone from soy.
- Native extracts – from plants have shown encouraging results on cell lines and including Kakadu plum, Davidson plum and Finger Lime extracts.
- Co2 extracts – from plant oils are more potent and stable and deliver essential fatty acids to the skin including: Pomegranate, Rosehip, Chia Seeds, Sea Buckthorn Berries, Tamanu, Evening Primrose and Calendula.
For antioxidants to work, they need to remain active and stable in the formulation. They also need to penetrate the skin. Combinations of antioxidants usually perform better, as they can work synergistically to replenish each other.